Posted on Friday, October 29 2010 at 9am
Ranking as knitting royalty, up in the higher echelons with Elizabeth Zimmermann, US author and feminist Barbara G. Walker transformed western knitting by introducing this classic guide, first published in 1972.
Knitting from the top down was always popular in eastern Europe but little known in the west, and this book demystifies the techniques in just 12 chapters, each covering a distinct element of design.
Barbara Walker explores how to knit items top down from hats to skirts and, of course, jumpers. Each principle is explained in detail, and her academic background informs her clear writing style.
Knitting top down has many advantages, from being able to try things on as you go to a dearth of seams. If you can’t bear the sewing involved in making up you’ll fall in love with this book in no time.
The arithmetic used is not too complicated, and although there are few pictures to modern eyes, the diagrams and explanations are clear and revelatory. Useful sections include a stitch glossary, explanations of many different increases, how to chart your own patterns, and how to convert piece knitting into the round.
If knitwear design (or simply better understanding of knitting techniques) is one of your ambitions, invest in this classic. You won’t be disappointed.
Knitting from the Top by Barbara G. Walker is published by Schoolhouse Press and available online in the UK from http://shop.britishyarn.org.uk.